Removing the quotes from “Marriage” and making it a choice available to this last, vast segment of society is deeply affecting.
Well, it has happened.
What I’ve cautiously said, many times over the past 20 years, I thought might happen before I die has actually come to pass far earlier than I’d dared to think possible. DOMA and Proposition 8 are dead, Marriage Equality is a reality at the Federal level and we are a virtual hair’s breadth away from Equality in Marriage at every level for every citizen of these United States.
I did not expect this. I’m used to us losing at the last moment; of being told to be patient and bristling at the ease with which our right to what all other citizens enjoy was so readily dismissed.
I was prepared to lose; I was not prepared for this win and was even further from prepared for the expansive, visceral exhilaration exploding from deep within the protected parts of my soul as the news sunk in, on Wednesday.
This has been passionately political an issue. The language and headspace with and through which I argued and lobbied for change in the law and acceptance of my fellow, marginalized comrades in gender treachery (Margaret Atwood – “The Handmaid’s Tale”) was voiced has been about the political and social recognition of our primary relationships (in my case, potential primary relationship) as equal to all others.
I’ve used terms such as “respect,” “acknowledgement,” “rights,” “benefits” and “equality” as I have railed against the discovered bigotry of those who had been close friends and those who have been stalwart enemies of this Equality. It was a fight, a battle, a debate.
Then, on Wednesday, came the word, and from millions of surprised eyes, tears poured forth. A sudden upwelling of emotion from deep within our hearts came bursting forth; revealing a deep, emotional investment on, I believe, all our parts at a level we may not have identified.
Standing at the edge of the stage in the Castro, on Wednesday afternoon, as thousand and thousands of people poured into the neighborhood; it dawned on me that I’d never seen a crowd, there, quite this happy. I’ve been to that corner for angry marches, cacophonous rallies, festive street fairs, the wildest of Hallowe’en’s…but never have I seen such a crowd so exuberantly joyful.
Everyone was smiling from inside; smiling at what was going on in their heads, smiling at the sun, smiling around themselves at this City of Equals.
Men, Women, Transgendered Men and Women, Families with kids… Hello, kids were on shoulders everywhere; kids who will be raised in a world of Acceptance, where Equality is a Given. These kids are the future.
And moist eyes, everywhere.
I can only speak for myself; but Wednesday was a day of resonant Discovery as well as Decision.
From whence all this emotion? I expected victorious cheering, I expected laughter and exultation. I did not expect to discover this deeply moving, powerful, emotional and unbridled Joy.
I discovered, on Wednesday, that one may not fully appreciate the depths, reach and darkness of living with one’s own oppression until that oppression is finally lifted. One can live with it, fight it, resist it and oppose it; yet, one cannot truly experience it’s true, daunting effect until it is removed.
Equality came Wednesday; 44 years after the first beer bottle was thrown at Stonewall, 39 years after I first realized this might not be a “phase,” 26 years after meeting the love of my life, 23 years after watching him die from an unacknowledged plague…decades of guarded conversations, self-editing and careful evaluation of my associates in considering how much to share…as of that moment, We became Equal.
In the days since, San Francisco has been victim to a plague of, in the words of Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, “Mad Vow Disease” as City Hall stayed open through the weekend, performing nearly 500 weddings with deputies from all over the city. Longtime partners have suddenly felt butterflies as the Actual Question was popped…
“What if s/he says ‘no’?!!”
Marriage is not for everyone, but everyone should have the right to it. Personally, I have always dreamed of a Forever Relationship, partnership between two men, two husbands, building something together, growing old and cantankerous together (so far, I’ve managed to end up old and cantankerous, all by myself. Not entirely true; I would have been married but for a disease and bad timing), sharing and experiencing life, together.
Partner, Lover, Mate, Husband, Wife, Significant Other…?
With this decision, we need no longer wrestle with what to call our partners, how to express our relationships, how to communicate the depth of our commitment to one another. With Marriage Equality, we become Husbands and Wives in the eyes of the Law and Society.
No more implied quotes from well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) friends and relatives. No more, “…so, are you going to have a ‘wedding’?” “Will you two be getting ‘Married’?” No more insubstantial yet insidious separation from the Real Thing in the minds of anyone. Any marriage I have from this point, forward is exactly the same as your marriage. Legal, binding, for better or worse, forever…if I have anything to do with it.
This one distinction, mentioned at a breakfast before Sunday’s Pride Parade, says it all. Removing the quotes from “Marriage” and making it a choice available to this last, vast segment of society is deeply affecting.
There remains more to do, some protections yet to gain before we will have become fully vested in the US; but the big step has been taken.
Even now, I can only write these thoughts, as to attempt to give them voice renders me weepy, yet.
The relief from oppression is profound.